Of all the features that Apple introduced at its Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday, the most significant isn't the most powerful Mac ever made. It's not the brand new version of iOS for your iPhone, or the version for your iPad. It's not the new WatchOS with all it's health and fitness functionality or its own dedicated app store.
No, the most substantial announcement Apple made was easy to overlook, but I promise you Google and Facebook took notice.
Apple announced a new "Sign In With Apple" social sign-in.
You've probably seen those "sign in with Facebook" and "sign in with Google" buttons on websites and in apps. They're super convenient, sure, but did you ever think about why Facebook and Google are so eager to let you use your account with them to sign in?
You probably thought it was because they were being so nice, right? Of course you didn't, because you're way smarter than that. You already know that it's because they track basically everything you do on your mobile devices, especially when you use their service to create an account with the apps you use.
But Apple just fired a warning shot at its competitors with Craig Federighi, senior vice president of Software Engineering, telling developers that that "we believe privacy is a fundamental human right," as the company introduced a new "Sign In With Apple," in it's iOS 13 software.
Like other versions of social account logins, it allows you a quick sign option for creating a new account with an app or service, without having to enter all of your information. The difference is, with Apple, you get "fast easy sign in without the tracking."
When you use Apple Sign In to create an account, no personal information is shared. This is perfect for creating a login for a game or app that has no real reason to know who you are.
You decide what information is used.
Of course, for those who want your information, Apple has a solution for that. You can choose what to share, including your email address, or--and this is the best part--Apple will create a random privacy email for that app, which will forward to your actual email. That way you can sign up for a newsletter or updates, without sharing your acutal information.
In addition, to prevent tracking, Apple says it creates a seperate email random email for each app, and you can selectively turn them off if you no longer want to receive emails reminding you that you should play Candy Crush, for example.
Apple has long made a point that it doesn't consider your personal information a product to monetize. It makes a lot of money off it's products and services, but unlike Google and Facebook, it doesn't consider you the product to be sold to advertisers in the form of access.
Apple wants you to know it cares about privacy.
In fact, this wasn't the only iOS 13 feature focused on privacy. Location tracking in apps now requires explicit consent, and users can choose between one-time or ongoing access, however Apple will now notify you with alerts if an app continues to track you. The company also says it is eliminating the ability for apps to use location tracking workarounds based on WiFi or Bluetooth connections.
Apple clearly wants to make sure it points out as often as possible that, unlike Google or Facebook, it doesn't make money off your information. Of course it doesn't have to, it makes plenty of money the old-fashioned way--making and selling products at rediculously high margins.
Still, this marks a giant step in the right direction for consumers to reclaim the right to control their personal information, while still enjoying the apps and services they want to use. Apple certainly has the ability to move the needle in this debate, and "Sign In With Apple," could make a real change in the way companies and developers think about how they crave user information.
Apple says iOS 13 will be available this fall for iPhone 6s and later.